Beto O'Rourke and the Cult of the Dead Cow

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Beto O’Rourke is a Democratic candidate for the 2020 presidential race. In a recent interview he revealed he was part of the Cult of the Dead Cow, the oldest hacking group in the U.S.

The hugely influential Cult of the Dead Cow, jokingly named after an abandoned Texas slaughterhouse, is notorious for releasing tools that allowed ordinary people to hack computers running Microsoft’s Windows. It’s also known for inventing the word “hacktivism” to describe human-rights-driven security work.

What Happens When U.S. Personnel Serve a Foreign Intelligence Agency?

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Remember that story about the iPhone hacking tool called Karma? Lawfare published a good piece detailing the consequences of U.S. spies working for a foreign intelligence agency.

Along the way, the Americans came to appreciate that their efforts at times did indeed include surveillance of political opponents of UAE authorities, and further that the UAE service at times targeted Americans despite assurances that this would not occur (or at least that the operations Project Raven in particular conducted or supported would not be directed at Americans).

That’s probably the biggest point of the story. Americans spying on Americans on behalf of another country.

How Former U.S. Hackers Broke Into iPhones For UAE

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A team of former U.S. hackers broke into iPhones for the United Arab Emirates. They used a spying tool called ‘Karma.’

Karma was used by an offensive cyber operations unit in Abu Dhabi comprised of Emirati security officials and former American intelligence operatives working as contractors for the UAE’s intelligence services. The existence of Karma and of the hacking unit, code named Project Raven, haven’t been previously reported.

Sounds like a powerful tool. They could remotely break into iPhones just by uploading phone numbers or email accounts into an automated system. It didn’t work on Android phones.

EU Does not Have a Coordinated Plan to Fight Election Hacking

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LONDON – The EU does not have an overall plan to deal with hackers seeking to disrupt its election in May 2019.  According to a feature in Wired, each of the 27 states who will be in the EU when the election takes place is expected to secure the vote in their own country. Consequently, smaller member states could be left vulnerable, and cyber-attacks or disinformation could have a serious effect on the election results.

If a tiny member state is left it to go alone against Russia’s state-backed hacking teams and disinformation brigades, the calculus of the European Parliament could be engineered by a third-party state to tilt in its favor. The stakes are huge, and some say the EU hasn’t faced up to the enormity of the issue.